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Coronavirus spike in Shoals leads hospital to re-open Covid unit

Helen Keller Hospital, North Alabama Medical Center stress need for vaccinations

Posted: Jul 22, 2021 5:56 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2021 7:29 PM

The rising number of coronavirus cases forced one hospital to reopen its COVID unit.

This comes as all of North Alabama and, most of the state, is in the Very High Risk category for COVID.

In the Shoals, only a third of the people are vaccinated and the number of COVID cases continues to rise.

Because of that, North Alabama Medical Center re-opened its COVID unit.

"Some appear to be not as sick, at least that's what we're experiencing here, currently, which is good. We do have a separated unit to keep them in so that they're isolated from the rest of the hospital," said Mike Howard, chief operating officer at North Alabama Medical Center.

He said there is some concern at the hospital as far as positive COVID patients, but their No. 1 issue is with the amount of people in the Shoals who aren't vaccinated.

They're seeing the same thing over at Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield.

"Only a third of our population in the Shoals is vaccinated. So, we think about herd immunity. We've heard a lot of that term being thrown around and we're not even close to that point right now," said Kyle Buchanan, president of Helen Keller Hospital.

He said they were only averaging nearly 70 new COVID patients a week.

As of Wednesday, it's up to 200.

Both Buchanan and Howard are telling people to get vaccinated now.

"Prevent yourself from becoming a patient by protecting yourself in any way possible. We all know the number one way to protect ourselves right now is readily available in our community is to get vaccinated," said Buchanan.

"Very few people come in to get that vaccine and that's probably the biggest concern and there's a lot of misinformation about the vaccine but the best defense is still the vaccine," said Howard.

The next vaccine clinic in the Shoals is next Monday at the Helen Keller Hospital Wellcare Center, 1021 W 11th St, Sheffield.

It's from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and it's for anyone over the age of 12.

They'll be administering the Pfizer vaccine.

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